An interesting part of gardening is the cultivation of medicinal plants. These types of plants are so named because they contain active principles (terpenes, alkaloids, polyphenols, etc.) and essential oils that produce a positive impact when applied to humans.
One of these medicinal plants is hyssop, which has shown its full potential in several scientific studies and today, extracts and oils from parts of the plant are marketed.
In today’s article, we want to unravel everything that hyssop can give us as a medicinal plant, as well as know its cultivation characteristics and possible medicinal properties that those who use it so much approve.
What Does Hyssop Look Like?
Hyssop (Hyssopus Officinalis) is considered as a herbaceous plant with a semi-bushy habit, with an average height of between 30 and 60 cm. The main stems are quite lignified, which is why many botanists consider it a shrub.
Hyssop grows wall in the Mediterranean climate and is found in southern Europe, coastal areas and the Middle East. It has a great aroma to the touch, which is why it is also used in aromatherapy and as an ingredient in the preparation of soaps, perfumes and cosmetics.
It also has ornamental uses, and can be grown in pots or directly in the garden, as it is considered a very resistant hardy plant. In addition, in summer it produces a very interesting pink or purple flowering, similar to that of lavender.
It has been used as a medicinal plant since pre-classical antiquity. It appears in several sacred books such as the Gospel of Saint John or the Hebrew Tanakh. However, due to the flowering it produces, it is suitable as an ornamental plant for the garden, where we will comment on the main requirements for its cultivation.
Hyssop is considered a hardy plant, resistant to bad weather and lack of water. Indeed, it can grow spontaneously and wildly in rocky areas and infertile grounds.
It adapts very well to the changes of temperature and supports as well the cold temperatures as very hot. It grows best in environments with very hot summers and colder winters.
It tolerates all types of ambient humidity, even the sea breezes of coastal environments, where it grows easily and without any problem.
It tolerates clayey-sandy soils as well as loamy and calcareous soils, as long as they are well drained. It needs a lot of sun and warm weather.
Hyssopus officinalis can be grown in any type of soil, although a sandy or loamy texture that offers good drainage and ease of root development is preferred. It can be planted in clay soils, but it will be necessary to control the water supply very well to avoid waterlogging.
Its ideal pH is that offered by calcareous soils, with a pH higher than 7 and an easy availability of calcium and magnesium.
The hyssop is used to the lack of water, although in the warmer months we can add irrigation to improve its development and avoid such a rampant appearance. In general, in summer and the hottest months, we can water at least once a week, with a contribution of 5 to 10 L per adult plant and per irrigation.
In winter, except in very hot climates, we usually do not need to water them.
Fertilization is only for very poor soils and focused on ornamental plants where flowering is to be improved. We can provide liquid or solid fertilizers with a 2-1-3 NPK ratio and micronutrients.
For a small plant like hyssop, we will provide 50-100 gr of granular fertilizer well distributed around the main stem. Slowly and with the humidity that the plant receives, the granules will dissolve and release the nutrients.
Depending on the development of the plant, we will repeat the application in mid-summer, depending on the development we want to obtain from the plant.
Multiplication of the Hyssop
One of the easiest ways to reproduce hyssop is by seed. The sowing period is long and is between the fall and spring following the obtaining of seeds. This can be done indoors and at protected temperatures, or wait until the warmer spring months.
We can also obtain plants identical to the mother by cutting them, selecting lightly lignified stems of about 10 cm long and planting them in a pot with a substrate composed of half peat and half coconut fiber to activate the emergence of new roots. This substrate must always be humid.
Medicinal Properties of Hyssop
Hyssop essential oil is made from the flowers and leaves of the plant that bears the same name. Although the whole plant is intensely aromatic, it is preferably harvested during the flowering season to take advantage of the flowering tops. Under optimal conditions, one harvest can be obtained in late spring and another in early fall.
Reduce cold symptoms
Although crushed hyssop extract was used in ancient times to soothe the respiratory tract, it is still used today because of the menthol-related oils, which soothe the airways and improve breathing when we suffer from congestion.
The oil of this plant can act as a natural antibiotic to fight certain infections, according to several scientific studies. This activity has also been observed in other plants such as anise, thyme, ginger, chamomile and sandalwood, among others. These oils are interesting for topical application due to their activity as virucidal agents for the treatment of different types of herpes.
In 2014, a study was conducted on mice where it was found that the plant extract of hyssop had antioxidant activity against free radicals that cause cell oxidation. From what we know, this medicinal plant plays an important role as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting the invasion of EOS and decreasing IgE levels, but it also acts on immune regulation.
Soothe irritated skin
The plant’s extract has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects, so it can be used to treat minor skin irritations, such as minor burns, healing scars or minor cuts.
Hyssop essential oil can be applied to the skin through compresses moistened with the extract, baths with hyssop soap, or steam diffusers.
Now that you know more about Hyssop and its medicinal properties, are you going to grow it in your garden? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.